As alleged in the superseding indictment, among the means and methods by which Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman participated in illegal conduct was by “using harassment, coercion and abusive litigation to intimidate and attack perceived enemies and critics” of Raniere.
Bronfman and Raniere made efforts to silence and intimidate DOS “slaves,” soon after public disclosure of DOS by Frank Report. They used several Mexican lawyers to send emails and letters to DOS slaves.
Among the lawyers Nxivm alleges they should have attorney-client privilege with is a one Carmen Gutierrez.
I have some serious doubts that Carmen Gutierrez exists.
On December 7, 2018, an attorneys list provided by Nxivm to the government lists “Carmen Gutierrez” as one of their lawyers. But there is no contact information, email address, or associated law for this lawyer.
Carmen Gutierrez was listed as an attorney in connection with the NXIVM v. Rick Ross matter.
That seems improbable. Neither Bronfman nor Raniere previously listed Gutierrez as an attorney who represented Nxivm. In response to a request by the government, Nxivm attorney Michael Sullivan indicated he would provide information regarding the identity of Gutierrez. To date, he has not done so. Does “Carmen Gutierrez” exist?
But regardless of which Mexican attorneys they used, it seems that Raniere called all the shots. He even wrote their letters for them.
Let’s look at a time line, most of which comes from the government’s memorandum of law.:
September 6, 2017
Raniere and Bronfman learned that The New York Times would be publishing an article about DOS, based in part on interviews with former Nxivm members.
September 13, 2017
Raniere sent Bronfman an email with the subject line, “What are your thoughts?”:
He then composed the following letter.
“Ms. [Jane Doe 9], I am the chief attorney of a criminal investigation in Mexico of more than 20 individuals tied together in a cooperative destructive network. These individuals, including yourself, have been acting against individuals who participate in the NXIVM corporation community. You are currently connected to the criminal investigations involving fraud, coercion, extortion, harassment, stalking, theft of trade secrets (which includes use of trade secrets compromised of, amongst other things, client lists), criminal conspiracy, computer crimes and corporate espionage. I strongly suggest that you cease and desist, undo, reverse, cancel, and retract, participation in all past, present, and future, conversations, conference calls, meetings, news media, social media, blogs, or websites, relating to this subject matter until the criminal matters are resolved. You should do everything in your power to affect this. Your best course of action to minimize your exposure, in addition to the above, is to repair all damages to parties you have acted against, reconciling with them, and fully cooperating with the criminal investigations. In this regard, I can help you for I represent some of your victims and have access to others. 10 Jane Doe 9 is not referenced in the superseding indictment.
“I know that people in the media (and also bloggers and the like) can be coercive, abusive in their power, and force unwitting, uninformed, participants to complicate situations and potentially even waive rights. You still have the ability to pull away from all participation with these people. Please contact me as soon as possible. “
Less than thirty minutes later, Bronfman sent the text of the email to Alejandro Betancourt in Mexico.
September 14, 2017
Jane Doe 9 received an email from a Mexican lawyer, Mr. Olmedo Gaxiola, with the subject line “CAUSA PENAL EN MEXICO.” Attached to the email was a Microsoft Word document containing, word-for-word, the text of the email that had been sent by Raniere to Bronfman — and then by Bronfman to
The metadata of the Word document received by Jane Doe 9 reflects that the creator of the document was Bronfman.
September 18, 2017
Raniere sent Bronfman another email with the subject line “Draft”.
In it he writes,
“Ms. [Jane Doe 9], You are the only person receiving this letter. This overture is against my better judgement as I feel there is little probability of success yet more expense, but I am writing you on my clients’ behalf.
“If you do not respond affirmatively to this letter by 1:00 pm September 19th I will need to proceed as previously required. I will then not contact you informally again. My clients want to give you this opportunity to cooperate and minimize the impact on your life. The criminal investigations will increase in number, and thoroughness, and will not stop until justice is served. This will not go away.
“The group with which you are involved contains individuals who have already served prison time [Joe O’Hara], others who are currently indicted [Frank Parlato], and some that face extradition proceedings [Catherine Oxenberg, Toni Natalie]. The others are under investigation for quite serious crimes. The form of justice to which they subscribe is trial and conviction by media, personal opinion, and abuse of power. They appear to have no issue with committing a crime when it suites [sic] them. They use the actions of others to justify this. Whether the person they target is right or wrong, this method of persecution is very wrongful. You must separate from them completely to mitigate the effects on yourself. Please divest yourself from this wrongfulness and this group. Please write to me affirmatively by the above deadline indicating you will cooperate fully. I can also help you with any criminal investigations within the United States. Sincerely.
That same day, Jane Doe 9 received an email from Mr. Olmedo Gaxiola attaching a second letter as a document in Microsoft Word.
The letter contained nearly exactly the same text as that sent to Bronfman by Raniere — and, once again, the metadata of the Word document reflects that the creator of the document was Bronfman.
Jane Doe 8 and other DOS “slaves” received similar communications and letters from another Mexican attorney – Ruiz Durán.
October 11, 2017
Six days before The New York Times published its report on DOS, Jane Doe 8 received an email from Durán. In the email, Durán stated that he was taking “the liberty to writing to you to let you know that the State’s Attorney’s Office in Mexico, has issued some directives against you and other individuals.”
Durán enclosed a letter in Spanish and a document containing an English translation directing Jane Doe 8 to “[s]top, abstain and refrain from incurring in any type of intimidation, acts of nuisance or disturbances against” Betancourt, legal representative of Nxivm Mexico, “and/or any person with any sort of relation to the Company referred herein.”
On September 14, 2017 – and again on October 12, 2017 – Bronfman sent Raniere emails attaching a spreadsheet titled “Individuals Involved” listing individuals and the purported “damage” they had caused to Raniere and Raniere-created entities. One column in the spreadsheet is titled “Crime,” under which Bronfman documented the supposed crime(s) each individual committed against Raniere, and another column in the spreadsheet is titled “Priority Level,” with numbers listed beneath.
The names of former DOS “slaves” appear on the list.
Next to Jane Doe 8 and Jane Doe 9’s names, under “Crime,” was listed, “Use of Trade secrets” and “secret disclosure.” The “Priority Level” indicated for Jane Doe 9 was 1.
It is interesting that
- Bronfman and Ranere targeted DOS victims as “individuals involved” in causing “damage” to Raniere.
- Bronfman and Raniere—not their attorneys—drafted the letters used to intimidate their enemies.
- Bronfman and Raniere used attorneys licensed to practice only in Mexico to send the letters, even though Bronfman, Raniere, Jane Doe 8, and Jane Doe 9 all lived in the New York area.
- The language of the letters
suggestthe threat of criminal prosecution.
When communications with attorneys are made for no other purpose than to contact crime victims in an effort to keep them from publicly disclosing the existence of DOS and from reporting their experiences to law enforcement, there can be no attorney-client privilege – at least that is the argument the government makes.
I suspect that argument will prevail.